National Security

‘That’s A Joke’: Biden’s Demand For More Border Agent Funding Misses The Point, Former CBP Commissioner Says

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The Biden administration’s plea for more Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Border Patrol funding fails to address key problems facing the agency, according to a former border security leader.

The White House told Axios on Monday that Congress is failing to “do its job” by refusing to pass a border security bill that, among a host of other initiatives, would include $405 million in funding for the hire of 1,300 additional Border Patrol agents. But there is an increasing vacancy of Border Patrol staff under the Biden administration, even as CBP spends more money on recruiting incentives and lowers personnel standards; it is not so much a resource issue as it is a chronic problem with how the administration restricts Border Patrol agents from doing their jobs, Mark Morgan, senior visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former commissioner of the CBP, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: ‘Thank You American President’: Migrants Thank Biden After Release From Processing Centers 245% Above Capacity: REPORT)

It doesn’t matter if the administration can secure funding for new Border Patrol hires if it can’t even fill the vacant slots in the agency, Morgan told the DCNF.

“Just throwing more money and resources at it — it’s a red herring,” Morgan told the DCNF. “[Funding for] hiring 1,300 additional agents? That’s a joke. They won’t even realize that because right now, hiring is not keeping up with attrition. They’re in the hole. So to think that, what, miraculously they’re going to pass a bill that funds 1,300 more agents?”

“It’s all smoke and mirrors again,” Morgan told the DCNF. It’s like ‘Hey, we’re going to hire more Border Patrol agents,’ as if that’s the issue, and it’s not. It’s their policies that are the issue. If they went back to Trump-era policies, without any more Border Patrol agents, they’d be able to reverse this by 75%. It’s not a resource issue, period.”

(Photo by Cheney Orr/Getty Images)

OLMITO, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 29: President Joe Biden looks at a presentation about immigration and border security at the Brownsville Station on February 29, 2024 in Olmito, Texas. (Photo by Cheney Orr/Getty Images)

The number of Border Patrol staff rose steadily during the former Trump administration, jumping from 16,534 personnel in 2018 to 16,806 in 2020, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report from January. When President Joe Biden took power in 2021 and took administrative control of agencies like DHS, the inverse occurred; the total number of Border Patrol personnel fell from 16,614 in 2021 to 16,234 in 2022.

The Biden administration is employing a variety of methods to incentivize people to apply for Border Patrol roles amid the recruiting crisis. CBP is offering new recruits a $20,000 bonus if they complete training and serve for three years and an additional $10,000 are willing to work at a “remote location.”

CBP has also turned to recruiting retired agents to fill the backlog of vacant spots. The agency has loosened uniform and grooming standards for existing agents, allowing them to display tattoos or various hairstyles, in a bid for retention.

Despite the incentives, Border Patrol agents are still leaving because the Biden administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the leadership of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas prevent them from enforcing security policies and doing the jobs they signed up for, Morgan told the DCNF. Under the Biden administration’s policies, roughly 7 million illegal immigrants have been encountered by Border Patrol since 2021, not including the number of “gotaways”  — illegal migrants who entered the country without ever being encountered.

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas meets with border patrol agents as President Joe Biden visits the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, on February 29, 2024. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

“This administration has completely transformed their law enforcement and national security mission to a mission of being a processing enterprise,” Morgan told the DCNF. “Every single day, 85% of the resources are pulled off the frontlines, relegated to perform the duties of a federal travel agency on those illegally entering, and they know that every single day, they’re handing operational control of our borders over to the cartels for them to exploit to push drugs, criminals and national security threats into this country.”

“Every single day, Border Patrol agents are going home at night, knowing that our borders are at the hands of the cartels, every aspect of our nation’s safety and national security is being jeopardized. The Border Patrol agents know that they’ve been thrust in force to become part of the world’s largest human trafficking and smuggling organization the world’s ever seen,” Morgan told the DCNF. “That’s why they’re leaving.”

A number of Border Patrol agents previously told the DCNF that this was the case. (RELATED: Illegal Migrants Are Double Timing It Over US-Canada Border As 2024 Election Looms)

“At the existential level, my agency lost what its purpose is, it’s not doing what it was meant for. To keep the bad guys out and protect the Constitution of the United States,” A Border Patrol agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the DCNF.

“No one wants to do this job. It’s thankless, long hours, and then we rarely if ever see the fruits of our labor. We didn’t sign up to be Uber drivers or babysitters just letting tons of aliens in,” another agent previously anonymously told the DCNF.

Biden continues to insist that he needs Congress to sign off on legislation that he claims would give him the authority to act on the illegal immigration crisis and porous southern border, even after signing a flurry of executive orders in his first months in office reversing a series of Trump-era border security policies, including deportation initiatives, the construction of the border wall and the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

PHARR, TEXAS – JUNE 30: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott listens to former President Donald Trump’s address during a tour to an unfinished section of the border wall on June 30, 2021 in Pharr, Texas. Gov. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Though it would help if Congress passed border security legislation, what has thus far been proposed by the Biden administration and several lawmakers fails to address the root causes of the illegal immigration crisis, Morgan told the DCNF. Biden also doesn’t need to wait to start enacting tougher border policies right now using his executive authority, Morgan said.

“Congress did not pass any meaningful border security that was slated during the Trump administration, yet we were able to achieve the most secure border of our lifetime,” Morgan told the DCNF. “How we were able to achieve that — through President Trump’s use of executive order. He gave us a network of tools, authorities and policies we needed, and actually demanded, that allowed us to actually enforce the law.”

“But yet, what did Biden do the first 100 days or so? He enacted 94 executive orders that dismantled and destroyed the network of tools we had in place,” Morgan told the DCNF. “It’s a complete crock. It’s a complete lie and the American people aren’t buying it anymore.”

The White House and DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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